The territorial government is ramping up COVID-19 testing for the holiday season in Yellowknife.
Currently the GNWT processes 300 to 400 COVID-19 tests a week between Stanton Hospital and Inuvik, the two locations where COVID-19 results can be confirmed. Roberston said the territory has the ability to test 500 people without “any additional effort.”
But Scott Robertson, a team lead for the NWT Health Authority’s COVID-19 response, said the GNWT is expecting 700 to 1,000 people per week will need to be tested as travel picks up during the holiday period.
To manage the increase, the GNWT has additional staff as well as extending testing clinic hours, Robertson said the territory is preparing to conduct “sample cooling,” which allows multiple samples to be tested at once.
If a batch of samples returns a positive result, the samples are then split up and tested individually to isolate the positive sample.
“If we exceed our capacity, we will then send those down to our partner laboratories in Alberta,” said Robertson. Those results can be returned within 48 hours. “But given that we anticipate this to be a short term search, we believe we can handle the majority of the tests that we’re going to process in the NWT.”
The GNWT said they will prioritize samples from people who display symptoms because it’s the “highest risk for us”, according to Robertson.
“We’ll ensure that those ones are tested here on devices in the Northwest Territories,” added Robertson.
The Yellowknife drive-thru testing centre will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, with weekend hours also set to be extended.
The testing has also been moved inside the Public Health building on Franklin Avenue, because of the weather, according to Scott Robertson, a team lead with the NWT Health Authority’s COVID-19 response.
A separate testing set-up has also been started at the isolation centre at the Chateau Nova hotel in Yellowknife.
This comes as hundreds of people should be getting tested, according to estimates from Dr. Kami Kandola, NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer, because of COVID-19 traces that were found by the city’s wastewater sampling.
Robertson added people looking to get tested should make an appointment online or call before heading to get tested for COVID-19.
“If you do not get through, please leave your name and number on the voicemail. Please stay isolated, and wait for someone to call you back from public health. If you do not hear back in 24 hours, please call back,” a statement from the GNWT read.